Apollo-Ridge senior Weightman excels doing double duty

Sunday, May 9, 2021 | 9:16 PM

Casey Weightman is no stranger to success at the WPIAL-championship level.

As a freshman at Belle Vernon, she earned WPIAL softball gold.

Two years ago, as a sophomore, she again represented the Leopards and captured WPIAL track and field silver in the javelin.

While she was a one-sport standout in each of her first two years, Weightman, now a senior at Apollo-Ridge, is enjoying positive results in softball and track and field this spring.

“I understand the training I need to be where I want to be with both sports while keeping up with academics,” said Weightman of her balancing act.

“It’s been a challenge, but it’s something I’ve accepted since the start of both seasons. I’ve had high expectations and goals for both.”

Her latest achievement came Saturday at the Baldwin Invitational, where she won the javelin with a season-best toss of 126 feet, 8 inches among a field of the top throwers in classes AAA and AA.

Overcoming windy conditions and a soft surface from rain throughout the week, Weightman owns the best throw in the WPIAL this season, regardless of classification. She is ahead of Class AAA leader Kylie Grafton (124-0) and ranks first in Class AA by more than 10 feet.

“When I heard (Grafton) had thrown 124, I was pumped,” Weightman said. “I was like, ‘This is awesome. It’s going to be good competition.’ She and others, I knew, were going to make me work for my position. Everybody wants to say how good I am, but I really wanted to go out and prove myself.”

Weightman’s winning distance at Baldwin also ranks her among the state’s 10 best throws this spring.

“Casey really loves the opportunity to be on a big stage like Baldwin and also WPIALs,” Apollo-Ridge track and field coach Bob Desiderato said. “When she gets in there, she throws with confidence.

“Lately, I hadn’t seen this level until Saturday. She came out of the blocks and broke the school record by about a foot (122-2) on her first throw of the season. Pitching in softball and also throwing the javelin as she does, she’s also working to overcome the wear and tear on her shoulder.”

Weightman is 4-1 as a pitcher with wins over Steel Valley (twice), Serra Catholic and Seton LaSalle. She has helped the Vikings to second place in Section 2-2A with a 7-3 record as matchups against Serra Catholic on Monday and Brentwood on Tuesday await.

“I really like where we are as we get ready for playoffs,” Weightman said. “We want to go into WPIALs with a lot of momentum.”

The WPIAL softball playoff pairings are expected to be announced Thursday with the first set of games slated for next Monday.

Weightman earned a starting spot as a freshman for the Belle Vernon softball team and recorded 41 at-bats as the Leopards captured the WPIAL Class 4A title and qualified for states.

“I remember just how exciting and gratifying it was because we worked so hard to get to that spot,” she said.

After years of softball at the scholastic and club levels, Weightman decided to step away from the sport heading into her sophomore year.

She turned to track and field for Belle Vernon, specifically the javelin, where she made her mark quickly and effectively.

“I had a lot of friends on the track team, and the track coach had talked to me about coming out,” Weightman said. “At first, I was like, ‘Why not? What could it hurt to give it a shot.’ ”

She went from throwing about 90 feet at the start of the season to a medal at the Baldwin Invitational and a WPIAL Class AAA silver with a career-best throw of 129-3. Still a relative unknown at the time, Weightman went into WPIALs seeded 12th.

Weightman pointed to the combination of her athletic ability, a strong arm from pitching in softball and coaching as a good foundation for the javelin.

She placed 14th at states.

Her motivation was high to build on her sophomore year as she entered last season. But her goals of a WPIAL title and an improved finish at states were dashed when the 2020 spring season was canceled because of the covid pandemic.

“I was a WPIAL favorite, and I had attention of a number of colleges,” Weightman said. “My name definitely was out there, and that was exciting and enlightening. I at least had the opportunity to come back with one more year, but there were so many seniors who lost their final chance to compete, including my teammates, and that was tough to see.”

Weightman then made another transition, this time to a new school for the 2020-21 academic year. Through the fall and into the winter, she considered returning to softball.

“At first, I really wasn’t sure, and I kind of put it off because track was my main (sport),” she said. “I sat down with the family and talked about it. I said why not have one more year as a senior and go out and have fun. I also didn’t want to have any regrets about not playing. I really fell in love with (softball) again.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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